Vatican opposes Italian bill against homophobia

<1> <2> <3> According to the Catholic Church, this bill would go against the freedom of worship and freedom of expression <4> <5> <6> <7> <8> <9> <10> Extremely rare, the Vatican intervened last week in Italian affairs. The headquarters of the Catholic Church formally opposed an Italian bill currently under discussion in the Senate aimed at punishing acts of discrimination and incitement to violence against gays, lesbians, transgender people and the disabled . <11> <12> According to the daily <13> Corriere della Sera <14>, a diplomatic “note verbale” was handed over by Mgr Paul Gallagher – in charge at the Vatican for relations with other States – to the Italian embassy to the Holy See on June 17. This unsigned note considers that certain parts of the Italian bill contravene the bilateral treaty in force between Italy and the Holy See, calling into question the freedom guaranteed to the Catholic Church in matters of organization and exercise of worship, as well as the freedom of expression granted to the faithful and to Catholic associations. <15> <16> The bill would therefore not exempt Italian Catholic schools from an obligation to participate in activities for the day national campaign against homophobia. The diplomatic note is particularly concerned that the law could lead to prosecution. <17> <18> “An unprecedented act” <19> <20> “This is an act unprecedented in the history of relations between the two states, at least there are no public precedents, ”said Corriere della Sera. The Holy See and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately react to the newspaper's revelation. <21> <22> The draft law on “measures to prevent and combat discrimination and violence for a motive based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability ”, carried by the deputy of the Democratic Party (center-left) Alessandro Zan, was approved in the Chamber of Deputies in November. It is currently being debated in the Senate. <23> <24> Attack on "personal freedom, educational choices" <25> <26> A year ago, the Italian episcopate had already firmly contested the bill, prompting a lifting shields from homosexual organizations and members of parliament. "The possible introduction of new incriminating provisions would risk opening the way to liberticidal drifts, discrimination", the Italian bishops had judged, believing that Italy was already endowed with adequate legal instruments. <27> <28> <29><30><31> <32> "For example to subject to criminal proceedings those who believe that the family requires a father and a mother, and not the duplication of the same figure, would be tantamount to introducing a crime of opinion . This de facto limits personal freedom, educational choices, the way of thinking and being, the exercise of criticism and dissent, ”the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) had rebelled. <33>